As our daydream continues Hae Soo sits on the grand steps at the royal jjimjabong. Wang So approaches her as she stares blankly at the floor. He gently asks why she is sitting on the steps. She is not feeling well and he offers her his hand to lead her back to her room. She tells him that she cannot go back to “that room”. She has left his offered hand untouched and he slowly drops it to his side. “Don’t do this to me because of Chae Ryung. She fooled you. She was never sincere with you, not even for one moment.” To her, his words do not ring true and she refuses to believe what he says as she remembers Chae Ryung clasping her hands over her own as they prayed together. Hae Soo insists that Chae Ryung was sincere to her. Wang So asks if she believes Chae Ryung over him and she blindsides him by requesting to leave the palace. Her grief at what has happened has rendered her incapable of having a rational conversation. Similarly, Wang So’s rejection issues have hardened his heart and instead of showing her how much he needs her, he reminds her that she has little choice in her place of residence. She belongs to him and he will never willingly let her leave.
Wang So returns to Hae Soo’s room in silence, his stern expression masks his worry and hurt. He looks forlornly at her empty bed. It appears as though he means to wait for her. He turns and notices her bridal robe neatly folded, clearly displayed in a place of reverence in her room.
Yeon Hwa sits in her bath pondering Wang So’s offer. All she need do is turn on her family and all of Goryeo will belong to her and her child. It is said that men marry their mothers. In this case, it is true. Yeon Hwa sits in her bath and calculates the fates of others as it benefits her, just as Wang So’s mother, Queen Witch, did numerous times. She smiles an evil smile as she decides to throw away her family in order to get what she wants.
Hae Soo passes a pink silk bundle to Mr. Sunshine and asks him to give it to Chae Ryung’s family. It is the least she can do considering how unjustly her friend died. Mr. Sunshine agrees to do what she asks even though he fears that her action will upset the king. She assures him that the king will allow it and he leaves to fulfill her request. Wang Won blusters in with a few ministers, no doubt looking to take in some of the royal jjimjabong’s quality tea. Hae Soo confronts him with the news that Chae Ryung is dead and Wang Won acts as if he couldn’t be bothered by the death of a slave. Hae Soo openly accuses him of her death and assures him that he will regret his actions. He asks her if she has gone crazy and then points out that just because she is the king’s mistress she should not feel so free to say whatever pops into her head. She takes exception to being called a mistress.
Hae Soo is summoned by Wang So and when she arrives he tells her that Mr. Sunshine informed him what Wang Won had called her and he doesn’t like it one little bit. He offers to make her a royal concubine, to be treated as a wife, second only to the queen. He adds that once she has a child she can be proclaimed as the second queen. She says she is not concerned about titles and it is not her motivation for wanting to leave the palace. As if she has said nothing, Wang So tells her to choose whatever title she wants. All she needs to do is let Mr. Sunshine know and it will be done for her. Wang So tells her that she knows she cannot leave and insists that she stop being so stubborn. He tenderly reaches for her hand and asks that they should stop fighting. He reminds her of how long they spent apart and entreats her not to waste time over a small fight. You dummy!! BIG MISTAKE. What is small to him is not small to her. She pulls her hand from his with an incredulous look on her face. It’s almost as if he was dumb enough to tell her to calm down.
Wang Wook and Wang Won are in the library. Wang Wook is concerned that Wang So will be reading a book entitled “Essentials of Government in the Zhenguan Reign”. I guess it’s a big deal because they are trying to hatch a plan to distract Wang So from his reading. They are sure that Wang So is planning something and so they target a favorite activity. Wang Wook tells Wang Won to get a hawk so that the king will hunt instead of read. Wang Won feels that they need to go further than just distractions. Wang Won wants to completely isolate the king. Wang Wook likes the idea and asks for an elaboration on the plan. If they could get rid of Baek Ah the king would be left alone and vulnerable. It is surmised that getting rid of Baek Ah should be easy enough to do. After all, he is hanging out with a gisaeng who used to be a Baekje princess. That is where they will strike.
Baek Ah and Woo Hee stroll through the village. He is telling her how all of the obstacles to their marriage have been overcome. Even his mother is waiting to meet her. He’s even suggested things to the king that would help her people recover. They stumble upon a group of slaves tied to posts in the middle of the village. They are all dead. Each has a sign around their necks that accuses them of failing to pay taxes. Baek Ah tries to shield Woo Hee from the horrific scene but she will not be blocked from seeing it. These people were hers.
In the throne room, Wang So is briefed on the trouble with the slaves. They are burning houses in protest of their treatment. The people are calling for soldiers to protect them from the slaves. Wang Wook suggests that Baek Ah should be sent to lead the soldiers as he is known as the King’s right-hand guy. As such, there are rumors that the king cares more for Silla and Baekje than the people of Goryeo since Baek Ah’s mother is a Silla princess and he is dating a Baekje princess. Wang Wook tells the king since he does not want any bloodshed and he wishes to avoid the appearance of favoritism, Baek Ah is the perfect choice. It would squash the rumors that are already circulating. Baek Ah enters the throne room and all conversation stops.
Later, Baek Ah discusses the matter with Wang So. The King emphatically refuses to allow his brother to lead the army. He has never even held a sword. Baek Ah takes responsibility for the situation and assures the King that he will not die. Wang So would step in himself but Mr. Sunshine feels that if he did it would only appear as if he were choosing sides between the noble families and the slave’s concerns.
That evening Baek Ah and Woo Hee sit by the water at the royal jjimjabong. He places a beautiful pin in her hair and admits that he was only pretending to be brave in front of the King. The truth is that he is unsure of the outcome of his mission. He proposes marriage to Woo Hee for the billionth time and she tells him he must return because he has a wife waiting. They kiss sweetly as she secretly wishes that she was not a Baekje princess and pledges with all her heart that she is his only companion.
An angry mob moves through the village and happens upon a royal decree pasted to the village information board on the corner. In the decree, Wang So promises to free all Baekje slaves and Baekje nobles forced to slavery. He also promises that no consideration will be given to people based on their origins anymore. It is a decree making all people equal regardless of where they are from or what king they formerly served. Sadly, the mob rules and they refuse to believe the decree. They decide to march to the palace instead, each of them with some kind of sharp implement in their hands with blood on their minds.
In the palace courtyard, the soldiers prepare for the incursion. Baek Ah stands in front of them, nervously fiddling with his tunic. A soldier approaches Baek Ah and hands him a sword. Baek Ah grasps the weapon and then attempts to do a fancy toss and catch with it but fails miserably, dropping it. Jung Ah arrives in the courtyard carrying his armor. He stoops to pick up the fallen sword and hands it to his brother. Baek Ah asks his brother why he is there considering it will mean his head if the King sees him. Jung Ah blusters and tells his brother that he is not afraid of the King and in a devil may care manner he says that the King can do whatever he wants. Jung Ah helps Baek Ah with his armor. It fits him perfectly. Jung Ah reminds Baek Ah that he had warned him the King would put him in a position to die. Jung Ah’s brow furrows as he mumbles that the King could have sent him. Jung Ah entreats his brother not to die. He even allows that he can come back injured but he is absolutely no allowed to die. Baek Ah nervously listens to his brother as Jung Ah laments that he cannot watch what is happening in the kingdom any longer.
Baek Ah carefully asks Jung Ah if he had received the package that he sent to him. He clarifies, “the one with the hairpin”. Jung Ah says he did receive it but he doesn’t know what it means since there was not a note along with it. Baek Ah tells him that Hae Soo wanted him to know that she “wants it”. In any other context, this would be quite an eyebrow-raising statement. Jung Ah can scarcely believe his ears and he asks if she really said that. Baek Ah repeats the phrase although he admits that he has no idea what it means. He then asks Jung Ah to take care of Hae Soo and then includes the King in his request. The ever faithful brother, Baek Ah tells Jung Ah that the King is having a hard time and that he needs someone to consider his feelings as well. Jung Ah has a hard time hearing Baek Ah’s full request and tells him to worry about himself and his own girl. Baek Ah says that he instructed Woo Hee not to come to see him off as it would make the situation difficult for both of them. Jung Ah bows to his brother and bids him to take care of himself. His request is heartfelt and exactly the type of bromance that I wish we could have seen throughout this story.
Jung Ah leaves Baek Ah standing in front of his soldiers not knowing if it will be the last time he ever sees his brother. Suddenly, all of the soldiers are looking up. We are shown a large sign that stretches the height of the palace wall. It lists the names of the three kingdoms along with the word unification. Baek Ah’s eyes jerk skyward to find his beloved Woo Hee standing on the battlement wall, dressed in mourning white. The soldiers point and chatter among themselves just as the angry mob of slaves enters the courtyard, sharp pointy instruments of death tightly in their grip. They are a surprised that their entrance is met with no resistance until they see what the soldiers see. It is their own princess preparing to jump from the palace wall. Baek Ah whispers her name. In a flash he is on the battlement next to her, shouting her name. He tries to move closer and she tells him to stop. He begs her not to jump and she tells him to turn around. She thinks that if he sees her jump he will never be able to forget it. She begins to fall and he races to catch her but it is too late. She plunges to her death as her people scream.
In voice-over, we hear her reasons for ending her life as we see how each person is affected by the news. She felt that she could not deny her parents and live her life as an adopted Goryeo princess. She thought, to do such a thing would be a betrayal of her people, as well as a betrayal of her parents who were killed in the conflict with Goryeo. She believes that with her death, the sins committed by her parents and King Taejo will be absolved. “Perhaps,” she wonders, “it is the reason I was born.” We see a distraught Baek Ah in the courtyard cradling Woo Hee’s body. He is inconsolable. We hear Woo Hee pledging her love to Baek Ah and swearing that he is her one and only companion.
Later, Baek Ah sits alone and looks at his many drawings of Woo Hee. Hae Soo comes and sits at his side. He holds her dress ornament in his hand, its bright red tassels are gone. Hae Soo asks him not to destroy himself in an effort to not forget Woo Hee. He tearfully asks why Woo Hee did not tell him how she was feeling. He answers his own question. He was too greedy. He had known her painful background but he didn’t ask her why she was so unhappy. Hae Soo tells him that the fault is not his but Woo Hee’s. He had given his whole heart to her. Baek Ah’s demeanor changes and he accuses the king of knowing everything and Hae Soo does not try to correct him.
Baek Ah stands before Wang So. The King remarks that Baek Ah does not look well and he offers to send a doctor to him. Baek Ah jumps straight into what has happened and confirms with the King that he knew everything and had even made a deal with Woo Hee. As a kind of confirmation, the King says that he did not know that she would die. He tells Baek Ah that Woo Hee had made her requests in order to save Baek Ah. In writing the decree, saving Baek Ah was all that the King had wanted to do. He says that even if he had known that Woo Hee would die he would not have done anything differently. Baek Ah was more important to him than anything else. Through bitter tears, Baek Ah acknowledges his brother’s efforts on his behalf. He knows that his brother loves him, which makes his decision even more painful. He tells his beloved King that it is difficult to be by his side. Baek Ah kneels and bows deeply to the King. Wang So begs his brother not to go and admits that he was wrong. Baek Ah refuses to allow the King to accept blame and instead places the blame on himself. He then apologizes for not being able to protect him. He bids the King “live a long and healthy life” and calls him “brother” one last time before leaving the throne room. Wang So shouts his brother’s name trying desperately to call back the one remaining person who he truly trusts.
In a room filled with candles and draped with red curtains, Yeon Hwa and Wang So meet. As he walks towards her we know that he is completely numb. Yeon Hwa has called him here because she has made a decision about throwing her family away. He asks her if she is sure and she confirms that she is. She smiles knowing she will finally achieve what she wants and her marriage to the King will be consummated. Wang So’s face is blank. He is almost like a machine. There is no reaction to her decision and no warmth or love in his eyes for her. What he will do is a means to an end and carries no emotional significance for him at all.
The next day the court ministers gather in the throne room along with Wang Wook and Wang Won. Wang Wook approaches the throne with a birdcage draped in gold cloth. It is a gift for the King, a hunting hawk. Wang Won lays it on thick about the gift being one of brotherly love and royal harmony. Everyone smiles fake smile and laughs insincere laughs. Just peachy. The golden cloth is removed to reveal a dead hawk. Everyone’s fake smiles fade as they realize that something has gone terribly wrong. The King points out that the hawk is dead and a nosey minister immediately labels it a “curse on the King”. Wang Wook begins to stammer and tries to explain that something must have happened to the hawk during its transport. Wang Won, seeing his head on the block, does what he can to separate himself from Wang Wook by pointing out that Wang Wook was the one who brought the hawk in the first place. “Who are you blaming?” he asks indignantly, his face a mask of pitiless self-righteousness. The King asks if it is a curse and then draws the natural conclusion that it is treason. All of the ministers pipe up and insist that it is an intentional act. Leave it to a bunch of bottom feeding ministers to make and accident look like intent. A terrified Wang Wook drops to the floor to kneel before the King. “I’m being framed, Your Majesty!”, he grovels. The King tells him that if it is found to be treason, Wang Wook will have to pay with his life.
In Yeon Hwa’s dressing room, maids attend the Queen. Queen Hwangbo rushes in and begs her daughter to help Wang Wook. She refuses to help under the guise that she cannot get involved in politics just to cover her brother’s crimes. Her mother is appalled that Yeon Hwa would minimize the importance of her own brother’s life. Yeon Hwa tells her mother that they must look at the bigger picture. She is Queen now. She suggests that her mother should let her go and she leaves the room with a group of her servants behind her. Her mother stands trembling with horror at the cold-blooded reptile that her daughter has become.
Wang Wook still kneels alone and trembling in the throne room. It is dark and it feels as though he has been there for days.
Hae Soo kneels before the King and asks that Wang Wook’s life be spared. The King rushes to her and tries to bring her to her feet. Kneeling will further damage her leg. She reminds him that he promised that he would not hurt his brothers. He acknowledges that she loves his brothers but he does not like that she has come to him on her knees for Wang Wook’s sake. He tells her to get up and she interrupts him. “The person who killed the hawk… was Your Majesty” she tells him with a confident stare. His hands drop from her arms and his face becomes stern. They stare at one another for a long moment. He basically admits that she is right and asks her “Is it wrong?” He then lists all of Wang Wook’s actual crimes. Wang Wook killed Wang Mu and Wang Eun. He chased Baek Ah away too. He tried to kill Wang Soo and did all he could to separate Hae Soo from him. He feels completely justified framing him if it is the only way that he can punish him for his numerous unanswered crimes. Hae Soo quickly interjects, that if Wang So kills anyone else it will only be returned to him as bad luck. She is sure that if he continues on this path, that everyone will consider him an enemy. She says all that she does because she does not want Wang So to be remembered as a bloody monarch. He agrees to her request. He will allow Wang Wook to live. He will be exiled to his hometown where he will never be allowed to leave his home. He will not be able to take a step outside. His greed for Goryeo was so great that the perfect punishment is to reduce his world to only his house, where he will suffocate.
Wang Wook now sits in the library. He moves to the door but is blocked by soldiers just outside. His house arrest has begun.
Hae Soo sits by the water at the royal jjimjabong plucking the leaves off of yellow daisies and throwing them into the water. Yeon Hwa approaches her, looking more and more like Queen Witch each time we see her. She scoffs at Hae Soo, marveling at the idea that she has time to play with flowers while the palace begins to crumble around her ears. Hae Soo is respectful and offers her sympathies to Yeon Hwa for her brother’s current situation. Yeon Hwa stares out at the water and tells Hae Soo that Wang Wook had never told her no and she wonders if she had destroyed him with her requests. She admits that she pushed him too hard to become king. She then places blame on Hae Soo for warning him about Wang So. She believes that Hae Soo claiming that Wang So would be king increased Wang Wook’s desire to take the throne. Hae Soo remembers others blaming her for the problems in the palace. She remembers Wang Yo blaming her for covering Wang So’s scar, which allowed him to take Wang Yo’s place at the rain ceremony. “You ruined everything and yet you shamelessly still live”.
Hae Soo sits on the jjimjabong steps and remembers all of the princes in happier days. She begins to see how her presence had affected each of them. Her chest constricts as she feels the weight of what has happened pressing down on her. She clutches her heart and tries to breathe normally.
In the throne room, Wang So is sitting for a royal portrait. Mr. Sunshine quietly tells the artist to make Wang So’s eyes wider and his shoulders broader. Wang So objects to this form of medieval Photoshop and insists that the artist draws him exactly as he is. He intends to give the portrait to someone. Jung Ah bursts into the throne room and Wang So remarks on his presence without an invitation, in violation of his exile. Jung Ah says that he felt that the King would not allow him to come if he had asked. Besides, he is there because he requires the King’s permission to do something. He presents a scroll from the previous King, Wang Yo. The scroll grants Jung Ah permission to marry Hae Soo. Wang So immediately proclaims it a fake and even if it wasn’t, everyone knows that he and Hae Soo are in a relationship and such a request would be ridiculous. Jung Ah points out that Wang So was enthroned without a decree and for him to treat a previous king’s decree with such disregard calls into question his own legitimacy as King. He says that Hae Soo does not hold the title of Queen, wife or concubine to the King and is, therefore, free to do as she wishes. He has also made the ministers aware of the document. Wang So trembles with rage and through gritted teeth he tells Mr. Sunshine to punish Jung Ah for breaking his exile. The words have barely left his lips when Jung Ah says that Hae Soo has agreed to the marriage. Mic drop!!
Hae Soo is in the royal jjimjabong approving soaps. She tells the court ladies to use flowers for the wives and grass and mint for the princes. The King rushes into the room and tells Hae Soo all that Jung Ah has presented to him. He asks if it is true. She asks when the royal order was created. It was a gift for being victorious in battle. Since Hae Soo hasn’t answered his question directly he is optimistic. He smiles and says he knows that she does not want to marry Jung Ah and his face brightens as he says he can dismiss the order as fake. In the middle of his relief, she interrupts him and simply says “I want it”. He is shocked into silence and he listens as she explains. She fears that if he denies the order that his succession will be brought into question. She then addresses their relationship. She waited for so long to see him and now she sees him every day and smiles. But, she also has days where she despises him and she fears if they remain together that she will end up hating him and she doesn’t want that to happen. She would rather leave now while some love still remains. His face hardens and he tells her that he will never let her leave. He storms away from her leaving her to consider a future as a prisoner in a pretty room.
Wang So sits in his room alone with his head in his hands. In spite of having everything, he is losing the things that are most important to him. He only has a moment before someone else is screaming in his ear about how they believe he should handle this or that. This time it is Yeon Hwa and she sees that if he holds on to Hae Soo that she will lose her position as Queen. She is angry that she was required to throw her whole family away but the King is not required to throw Hae Soo away in order to keep his position. He reiterates that he will not give Hae Soo up. Yeon Hwa leaves in disgust, the servants almost smashing her face in by not opening the doors sooner.
Wang Wook sits at his desk remembering when Hae Soo came to him in the throne room as he knelt, begging for his life. She encourages him to give up his quest for the throne. She tells him that leaving is the only way to survive. Yeon Hwa comes to him wearing a black face veil as if the thin material will hide her reptilian skin. She says only one thing. “Brother, I need your help.”
The next day, in the throne room, Yeon Hwa stands next to the King as Wang Wook approaches the throne. He tells Wang So that he has something to tell him and asks his sister to step out so that he can speak with the King alone. Before she leaves, she tells Wang So to listen to her brother until he is completely finished. Yeon Hwa exits the throne room and Wang Wook begins to weave a tale with a few important pieces left out. He tells Wang So that Hae Soo had agreed to marry him and that they had been engaged. This is not completely true. They had spoken of marriage but she had never provided him with a definitive answer and he had never really proposed properly. Still, the information is ammunition enough to blow a hole in Wang So’s already wounded heart.
At the royal jjimjabong, Wang So confronts Hae Soo about her relationship with Wang Wook and all that she had done for him. He asks if it is true and she confirms that it is. Wang So remembers all of the times that there were blank spaces in their conversations regarding “someone else” that she liked. In his mind, he now fills them in with Wang Wook. He begs her to lie to him, as the truth is far too painful to bear. Unfortunately, it is an incomplete truth that she has agreed to. She reminds him that they had promised not to lie to one another. He asks her how she could hurt him as she has and with Wang Wook of all people. She steps forward to try and comfort him, to try to explain more but he steps backward. She reaches for him and he pulls his hand away from her as she has done to him so many times. He tells her that today is the last day that he will ever see her. He leaves and she drops to the ground in disbelief.
Hae Soo stands at the top of the jjimjabong stairs. The court ladies bow and bid her goodbye as she takes in her surroundings one more time. She smiles.
In the throne room, Mr. Sunshine tells the king that it was understandable to throw Hae Soo away once but he fears that if Wang So does it again that he will lose himself in the process. Wang Soo closes the book he was looking at and stares at nothing as he tells Mr. Sunshine that he did not throw Hae Soo away but it was she that threw him away.
At the palace gates, Baek Ah offers Hae Soo a drink and they talk about her leaving. He tells her that if he knew about the scroll that Jung Ah had that he wouldn’t have helped them so easily. Hae Soo says that she did not know about the scroll either. He had only told her that he had a way out of the palace. Baek Ah says that he does not like the idea of her marriage to Jung Ah and she says that she does not like it either. However, it is her only way out of the palace and so she will take it. They express their gratefulness for their relationship and Hae Soo asks him not to become ill with grief. He tells her that he wanted her to stay with Wang So but she feels there is too much blood between them. She thought that she could change things but she was wrong and now she cannot stand by and watch anymore.
As they finish their conversation, Wang Wook approaches and Baek Ah expresses his displeasure at his presence. Hae Soo stops him from chiding his brother and tells him it’s ok. Baek Ah takes his leave and Wang Wook approaches Hae Soo. She thanks him and he says that did not tell the King those things about them with good intentions. She says that if he did not know that she wanted to leave, she knows that he would never have said such things. He assures her that Jung Ah will take good care of her. He tells her to forget everything here and to think only of the future. For a long moment, he cannot speak and then he finally tells her that he believes that she understands him. If that is true, he tells her, she will have nothing to be sad about. He hesitantly reaches for her and then finally embraces her and asks her to forget everyone at the palace, as her life there is over. They smile at one another and then he leaves her alone at the gate. She turns to gaze at the palace one last time, its banners caught in a gentle breeze. Tears well up in her eyes as she thinks to herself…
If I had not met him, I would not yearn for him.
If I did not know him, I would not think of him so much.
If we had not been together, I would not have to disappear.
If I did not treasure him so much, I would not have so many memories.
If I did not love him, we would not need to throw each other away.
If we had not been face to face, we would never have been together.
Perhaps, if I had not met you at all.
Inside the palace, Wang So wanders Hae Soo’s empty room. He sees her bridal robe still in its place. He carefully touches the cloth, eventually lifting the robe from its place. He looks at the delicate embroidery and begins to cry, unable to fully express the depth of his pain.
This was an episode filled with tears. There were so many reasons to cry your eyes out and so many different kinds of tears to shed. Tears of sadness, tears of pain, tears of rage, tears of frustration, all were encompassed in this episode. I’m not sure how we will survive the finale.
This episode also belonged to the precious and loyal Baek Ah. Nam Joo Hyuk is wonderful as the ever kind, ever loving brother to our tortured King. He is always steadfast yet he questions his own loyalty and love for those around him. Did he love enough? Was he helpful enough to those that needed it most? Even after all that happens to him he is still kind. I love, love, love, the bromance between his character and the King. Instead of Hae Soo, it is he that is really the steady rock in Wang So’s life. I’m just glad that the writers were brave enough to acknowledge it. I wanted more scenes with the brothers having each other’s backs but alas, that would have given our unsteady King too much reason to be rational. I hope the next episode will give us at least one more scene of brotherly love before the crazy and crying sets in.
I’m still waiting patiently for Wang Won, Wang Wook, and Yeon Hwa to get their much-deserved smack down. I can’t believe the crap that Wang Won gets away with. The pure and simple fact that he is so callous about Chae Ryung’s death earns him a public lashing and boiling in oil. Wang Wook will suffer in exile, being caged in his own home but I wonder if others are forbidden from visiting him? Yeon Hwa had better get some kind of a beat down. She is a snake who issues her venom on anyone and everyone around her. Please, please, please, make her suffer!!